'They Say'

'They Say' : Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race

3.65 (66 ratings by Goodreads)
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Few students have had the opportunity to consider the contrasting social identties pursued by African Americans following abolotion of slavery, nor to understand how whites' skewed construction of those aspirations were a reaction against them. The story of Ida Wells provides a useful narrative frame for understanding the treacherous crosscurrents of race that shaped social identites.Wells was born into slavery in 1862, of mixed parentage, and raised in Mississippi. Her thrist for education and high social aspiration, combined with her strong personality, led her to speak out in ways often at odds with Victorian feminine ideals. She was expelled from Rusk Cllege in a dispute with its white president; she taught school in Memphis, where she brought a suit against the Chesapeake reailroad after being thrown off for refusing to leave the first-class cas; and she spoke out against the increasing segregation in the Memphis school system. After race riots and lynchings in Memphis in 1892, she embarked full-blown on the career for which she is now remembered, as an outspoken writer and lecturer against lynching.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 127 x 175.26 x 22.86mm | 317.51g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 20 halftones, 5 maps
  • 0195160207
  • 9780195160208

About James West Davidson

James West Davidson is a historian and writer. His books include After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, Nation of Nations: A History of the American Republic, and Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure.show more

Review quote

"Lynching is the greatest disgrace in our history, and Ida Wells-Barnett was its most courageous assailant. James West Davidson has written an eloquent account of the growth of Wells-Barnett's self-defined persona as a black woman, journalist, and fearless crusader. Refusing to accept an identity shaped by others--'they say'--she boldly told the world that 'I say' who I am and what I stand for."--James McPherson, author of The Battle Cry of Freedom and The Mighty Scourge"Davidson's narrative looking at the violent, tormented history of the post-Reconstruction South through the prism of the interior life of Ida B. Wells, one of America's undisputed heroes, is a refreshing way to open wider the door on the complexities of race, racism and identity that, regrettably, still haunt and challenge us today. We need highly readable scholarship like this, infused by the example of the redoubtable Wells to help give the lie to that the old adage that says 'we learn from history that we do not learn from history.' As an African-American woman and a journalist, I am grateful and inspired to have this testimony to a woman on whose shoulders I stand and whose legacy inspires me to stay committed to journalism that is informed by the righteous struggle of all peoples to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin."--Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Journalist"How did Ida Wells become the woman who challenged the silence of America on lynching? James Davidson shows us by re-creating the world of African Americans during the turbulent decades after the Civil War. A touching, compelling portrait of an important life in crucial times."--H.W. Brands, Dickson, Allen, Anderson Centennial Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, author of Andrew Jackson and The Money Menshow more

Rating details

66 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 23% (15)
4 41% (27)
3 20% (13)
2 12% (8)
1 5% (3)
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